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2018 Irish Champions Weekend tips - Through the card tips at Leopardstown on Saturday

Leopardstown races.

Our expert takes a look through the card on Irish Champions Day at Leopardstown and provides readers with his tips for every race on Saturday 15th September.

While British eyes will be fixed on the St Leger at Doncaster, Irish flat racing fans will be crammed into the Leopardstown stands, ready to take in all the action on Irish Champions Day. This inception was greeted with huge excitement when it was introduced in 2016, with capacity crowds expected on Saturday at Leopardstown and on Sunday, as the Curragh stages their own version of the St Leger.

The Irish Champions Stakes headlines the proceedings on Saturday, with the Group One Matron Stakes also playing a starring role. Our expert takes a look through Saturday’s card in full and provides his tips for every race at Leopardstown.

Irish Champions Day Tips

3:20pm Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes (Listed) (2yo) 7f



The fillies maiden which traditionally opens Champions Day has been upgraded to Listed status and renamed the Ingabelle Stakes. Burmese Walts could be an interesting challenger for Ger Lyons, while Thomas Mullins will be hopeful Mia Mento can build on a decent fourth in Group Three company on his second career start.

Jessica Harrington watched Trethias give Pink Dogwood a sound thrashing when they clashed over a mile at the Curragh, but it’s her stablemate, SPARKLE’N’JOY who looks the one to side with each-way, having won well in a maiden at Naas before finishing a four-length fourth in the Group Three Silver Flash Stakes on her most recent run.

3:50pm Irish Stallion Farms EBF "Petingo" Handicap (Premier Handicap) (3yo+) 1m5f



Laws Of Spin won this race for Willie Mullins last season and Ireland top jumps trainer looks mob-handed in this year’s renewal, with Royal Ascot winner, Lagostovegas, Limini and Sharjah all pencilled in to spearhead his challenge.

Aidan O’Brien’s Astronomer is progressing quickly and he looks the pick of the three-year-olds, but I’d much rather take an eahc-way punt on BATTS ROCK, who placed in good quality handicaps over a mile-and-a-half during his time in England and is two-from-two since linking up with Gordon Elliott.

4:25pm KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2) (2yo) 1m


Masaff was handed some fairly lofty entries after winning on his maiden outing. The same can be said for MADHMOON, who's course-and-distance debut win was boosted by the subsequent victory of Sydney Opera House and he could justify entries in the National Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy with a second straight victory on Saturday.

Aidan O'Brien is sure to have his troops primed for a successful Champions Day at Leopardstown.

4:55pm Paddy's Rewards Club Stakes (Group 3) (3yo+) 1m4f



Stellar Mass is a good yard-stick in this Group Three, having finished second to Eziyra and Yucatan in similar contests to this during the summer. Jim Bolger’s five-year-old will, however, have to give weight to several three-year-olds, with the pick of the younger bunch being ROSTROPOVICH.

After struggling home in the French version of the Derby, Rostropovich almost held on from the front to claim the Irish equivalent for Aidan O'Brien, only for Latrobe to come through and relegate him to second. O'Brien's colt was then the only three-year-old to enter the King George at Ascot, where Seamie Heffernan's mount was largely outclassed and finished 13 lengths adrift of the leaders.

I was expecting Rostropovich to either be part of O'Brien's Irish St Leger team, or be sent to France to take part in the Prix Niel. So you can image my surprise when he was confirmed as a runner in this Group Three and any price better than evens should be snapped up.

5:25pm Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies & Mares) (3yo+) 1m



Laurens is my favourite flat horse in training, but I had hoped I wouldn’t see her over a mile again this season and I fear this trip may be a little on the stiff side. Alpha Centauri is obviously the one to beat having won four Group Ones on the bounce, but to see a horse of MAGICAL’S quality sitting on odds of 12/1 is an opportunity too good to pass up.

This time last year, Magical saw off Happily to win the Debutante Stakes, before coming up a nose short of her stablemate and rival in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes on the Irish St Leger card. O’Brien’s filly then ended her Classic season with two underwhelming fourths in Group One company, a result she matched on her reappearance on heavy ground at Deauville.

Injury then disrupted her campaign, but there were no signs of ring-rust when Magical returned to action in the Kilboy Estate Stakes, comfortably seeing off some capable rivals to claim a simple Group Two triumph. Magical may have been unable to get the job done at Group One level in the past, but she has plenty of top-level experience, she’s lightly raced this term and has no scar-tissue from losing out to Alpha Centauri this season. Of the favourite's rivals, she could be the one to give her a run for her money.

Magical (left) battles with Happily (right) in The Moyglare Stud Stakes on Champions Weekend last season.

6:00pm Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes (Group 2) (3yo+) 1m



Kenya returned to top form in handicap company the last day and could step up again. Stablemate I Can Fly claimed a first victory over a mile in Listed company two starts ago and has been backed since being confirmed in Saturday renewal.

While Psychedelic Funk is a horse I like, over this trip, I think PINCHECK offers the most appeal. Jessica Harrington's charge claimed a Group Three prize over course-and-distance on his most recent start, beating the well-backed three-year-old Massarr in the process. Massarr is rated higher than any of the younger brigade entered into this Group Two and I expect Pincheck to challenge again from a decent draw out in stall seven.

6:35pm QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) (3yo+) 1m2f



The withdrawals of Poet's Word and Lancaster Bomber have lessened the appeal of this renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes very slightly, but punters can look forward to a fantastic content on Saturday at Leopardstown. While French raider Study Of Man has to be respected, it's hard to get away from the top two in the betting, who have enjoyed quite the rivalry over the last 12 months.

The two most recent of the showdown's between the pair have gone to Roaring Lion, who's claimed victory in the Coral-Eclipse and the Juddmonte International in excellent fashion. When they clashed in the Racing Post Trophy and the 2000 Guineas, it was SAXON WARRIOR who got the upper hand and, on home soil, I fancy Aidan O'Brien's colt to return to winning ways.

After failing to see out the trip in both versions of the Derby - and shattering his unbeatable aura in the process - Saxon Warrior produced a spirited display to push Roaring Lion all the way to the line in the Eclipse, just days after his defeat to Latrobe in the Irish Derby. Ryan Moore kept tabs on Jonh Gosden's colt through-out the Juddmonte, but couldn't match his rivals finishing burst on the fast Knavesmire Turf and was overtaken by Poet's Word and Thundering Blue on the run to the line.

Aidan O'Brien will be praying for some ease in the ground between now and Champions Day, as Saxon Warrior has been beaten just once in five starts when the word "firm" hasn't featured in the going description. This will be Roaring Lion's first outing on foreign soil and Saxon Warrior looks to be the one to back at their current prices.

Saxon Warrior (left) and Roaring Lion (right) will clash for the sixth time in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

7:10pm Irish Stallion Farms EBF "Sovereign Path" Handicap (Premier Handicap) (3yo+) 7f


Smash Williams has been running at a higher level than this in 2018 and has placed on his two handicap outings this far. Surrounding is another who holds appeal, but the name who sticks out for me is DANIELSFLYER, who came within a whisker of scooping a huge prize for David Barron at the Galway Festival and returns to Ireland on the back of a decent effort in another lucrative seven furlong handicap at Goodwood. 25/1 is a huge price for an eahc-way punt!

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2018 Irish Champions Weekend tips - Through the card tips at Leopardstown on Saturday

Our expert takes a look through the card on Irish Champions Day at Leopardstown and provides readers with his tips for every race on Saturday 15th September.

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